It’s Tough Sledding Out There

“Going for a new amateur recreational saucer-sled landspeed record – Clark W. Griswald Jr. Remember, don’t try this at home, kids, I am a professional. Later dudes!” – Spoken by actor Chevy Chase in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.


On the news the other morning I heard that Saskatoon is considering banning tobogganing on all city hills. Good old-fashioned downhill sledding might soon be facing the chopping block. How disappointing! No doubt someone was injured so now the city must protect itself from lawsuits and irresponsible people must be protected from themselves.

It’s a slippery slope (a bad pun, I know), but once one community implements a by-law then it’s only a matter of time before another town follows the trend.

In my little community, the “hill” has been a source of countless hours of enjoyment for young and old alike and for as long as anyone can remember. As soon as there is enough snow on the ground, children are out there testing their bobsled skills. With each snowfall the base is compacted until a slick surface remains to provide an exhilarating ride down the slope. Youngsters often add to the excitement by building snow ramps so that some air time can be gained. (I’ve also seen some of my adult friends take a run at this as well!)

Not only are these children getting some much needed exercise (believe me, the climb back up that hill can be exhausting), but they are also using their imaginations as they dream of possible glory (remember that Olympian Ken Kotyk attended Invermay School). It’s also a great opportunity to engage in some play that is not organized to the nth degree by some well-meaning adults.

But I am sure some nervous Nellie’s out there are wondering about safety. Does anyone get hurt while hurtling down this hill? Occasionally there is a bloody lip, a bump on the head or a scraped face, but nothing that would deter riders from further adventures. But what such bandaid boo-boos do teach our children is that caution must be observed or the results can be painful.

Whenever sledding was part of a school activity (the hill is conveniently located across from the school), the proper precautions were taken such as making sure that each student had a helmet and that proper rules were put in place, and I’m sure that is still the case. But it always amused me to see that after school these same students came to the hill and played sans helmets, and they survived just fine. Only the cold or darkness forced them inside!

But now there’s talk of banning such fun and it saddens me to see the road we’re taking. So this question keeps coming to mind, “Are we going to forbid any activity where injury is possible?” If so, what a bleak forecast for children in the future!

When my son was little he almost lost a finger on the metal tubing of a lawn chair. I guess as a protective parent concerned about future accidents of this nature, I should have started a campaign to ban folding lawn furniture. When my daughter was pre-school age, she stepped on a rake (yep, just like the cartoon version) and sustained an instant hematoma on her forehead which later required some surgery. So what was I to do? Decry the vicious nature of garden tools and have them banished forever? Yes, I am being a bit ridiculous now, but some of the suggestions about keeping our citizens safe these days are just as ridiculous.

I am sure the city of Saskatoon has some valid reasons for considering the ban, but I am wondering where does it end? When do we recognize that there are always risks, especially when snow and ice are involved? One of my worst bruises came as a result of slipping and falling on some ice after a water pipe break in town. It happens. We need to be careful. But hopefully we don’t forbid every activity because a small percentage (almost negligible in most cases) of people sustained an injury.

It’s interesting that on the same day news of this ban came out, a post on facebook announced that some enterprising individuals were setting up a massive slip n’ slide in Saskatoon this summer at a rumoured $25 a run. Does anyone else see some irony here?

I understand that several cities have taken steps to ban sledding, so my apologies to Saskatoon – I didn’t mean to pick on you!


5 thoughts on “It’s Tough Sledding Out There

  1. it would be very sad for children to be unable to experience that awesome feeling of maneuvering a fast sled down a hill and make it to the bottom of the hill. Taking away things that are fun but may have some risk will make a very weak society.

  2. We need to have excitement in our lives and to produce the natural highs from adrenalin (the hills were higher and faster the older I get). If we don’t get the high naturally our bored children will seek them from artificial drugs and that will cost us a lot more dearly than bumps and bruises.

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